Without a doubt, this whole internet thing has let a whole lot of stupid people be heard a whole lot more.
Every nutjob, fanatic, crazy, fundy, loony leftwing (is that an oxymoron?), wacky rightwing, conspiracy theorist specialist can get on the google machine and make themselves a webpage, then spout off any nonsense they want. Hell, even the Greens have a website and use the twitter, and they hate technology and development!
You’ll have friends on your Facebook account that say some whacky stuff that you totally don’t agree on. In fact, they’ll say things that downright infuriate you. I’ve even had to go for a walk after reading some things my friends have posted, or links they’ve shared!
Occasionally, I’ll jump into the torrent of controversy and post something (anyone remember my epic post about childrens’ dance concerts – let’s never speak of that again!), or respond to something that I disagree with. Naturally, the world sees that I am in fact correct, change their views are won over to my correct way of thinking. NOT!
Someone wise once told me that before you can believe what you believe, you need to know what you don’t believe and why you don’t believe that. Essentially, he was saying seek the truth.
Without a doubt, I’m ideologically libertarian. Socialism (or it’s even eviller twin Communism) really does not do it for me. I’m hardly progressive. Conservatism is useful but boring. Religiously, I’m Christian. I’ve had a read up of the other majors and know it’s the one for me. You could say almost everything I see, think, read and analyse is through those prisms. My fav blogs are the Cat and Instapundit (and possibly Visual News but that’s just poetry with pictures!).
Like I said above, I’ve got some friends that say some stuff that downright infuriates me. I couldn’t disagree more with them – usually. You know what? That’s what I love about them. I LOVE reading stuff I hate. Isn’t that strange! One of the thrills of being a human is to be able to reason. To have your own opinion, ideology, beliefs and to be able to understand others.
As I get older, my views seem to crystalise more. I see the fruits of an ideology and think ‘that’s just not for me’. I also begin to see the flaws in my own ideology.
I heart capitalism. I believe in the free market and the idea that someone can work their way to prosperity. I loathe this tall poppy syndrome we have here in Australia. I often get baffled how socialists and progressives want to tax the snot out of someones efforts, only to give it to the lazy.
Here’s the rub – as I look at capitalism, it’s plain to see the obscene disparity between rich and poor. It’s exponentially harder for a kid from a broken family with unemployed parents to get ahead in life. Why should that kid be punished because of the idiocy of their parents? This is why I need my progressive, lefty friends. This is why I need my unionist buddies to remind me of some of the craziness of this capitalist system that I love. Sometimes I need my more conservative friends to show me the permissiveness that libertarian views give.
I know this isn’t the same for everyone on the internet, but I’m thankful for my friends that I disagree with. I know their motivations – a free Australia, a fair go, justice, helping those in need – things that make this great nation of ours even greater. Sure, I might think the way they want to do that is crazy, but I know where they’re coming from. I know their motivations arn’t malicious (usually!) – they want the best for our country.
As I read posts, websites and facebook shares of things I disagree with, I constantly ask myself ‘why do I disagree with this’, or ‘why does this post make me want to stab progressives in the eye with a soldering iron’. More often then not, it’s because the post is idiotic and stupid. But sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something in there that makes me think ‘man, I got it so wrong on that point’. It’s in those times, I’m even more thankful of my friends that I disagree with.
So if you’re one of those friends that I’ve disagreed with (and you’ve managed to read this dross until this point), thanks for sharing your opinions with the world on Facebook. You’ve given me literally minutes of chuckles, hours of rage and often, moments where I need to eat humble pie.
I need you to help me remember why I believe what I believe and why I don’t believe what I don’t believe.
image from http://www.nrl.com/what-origin-means-to-mark-geyer/tabid/10874/newsid/78681/default.aspx
Many people ask me how to respond to sorrow and grief. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been quite honest and upfront about my own journey. Perhaps people think I’ve got something to say. What ever it is, I’m constantly honoured when people ask me my advice.
As I’ve talked about in earlier posts, I’m naturally a terrible introvert. I’m most comfortable living in my own world of uncommon sense, enjoying a tidal wave of thoughts every second, lapping up the totality of humanity and enjoying my small contribution to those around me. For me, the question ‘what are you thinking’ can be an incredibly difficult question to ask! I often have to get over the thoughts of ‘these are my thoughts, not your thoughts! You can’t think my thoughts, they are mine, get your own thoughts to think about!’. Then I realise they (usually my wife!) just want to know what I’m thinking, because, well that’s what gals like to do. They arn’t wanting to steal my thoughts (which are my thoughts to think), they just want to know.Odd creatures.
Not too long ago, I talked about the serendipity of silence, in relation to being quiet within yourself. Friendship can be much the same way, as can responding to grief.
There is an art to being with someone. To being able to be there – just being – physically, emotionally or mentally. To communicate an essay of emotion without even mentioning a syllable. I actually think guys can be better then girls at this. Why? Who knows. I think guys just get that sometimes, you’ll talk when you’re ready, and only when the required pre-conditions are met for communication.
Sometimes you can say it all, without saying a word. The sum of shared experiences that bind a pair of people can sometimes mean so much more then, well, words.
For me, I quite enjoy listening to others. I love the concept of someones story. I love hearing the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. I love a good laugh.
Sometimes, the best way to journey (not help, journey) with someone through grief is just by being there. There’s probably nothing you can say that will take the pain away. You can’t apologise for someones loss. You probably can’t fathom what they are feeling. What you can do is be there.
It’s often through silence that you get the best conversations. The biggest insights. The most powerful breakthroughs. Some things you cant rush with words. The crassness of communication turns a journey of grief into a destination that needs to be ‘talked through’.
I think one of the greatest respects you can pay a friend is the respect of silence. Of understanding that you both don’t have to talk. The respect of being. Some might consider this an incredibly shallow friendship – however, I think contrary to this. It certainly does not replace the pillars of friendship that include intimacy, openness and a shared history. What the respect of silence says to your companion is that silence isn’t a gap between you. It’s not a void that needs to be filled with words. It’s actually an invisible bond between you.
I observed two old friends at a funeral recently. Usually very chatty, no words were minced or wasted between the pair during the season of mourning. I watched as they stood together, strolled together through the green expanse of the cemetery and enjoyed the closeness of a silent bond together. Neither had to say a word to each other – each knew silence was all they needed to convey their deepest sympathies to each other.
It’s the totality of your walk together. The sum of your shared experiences. It’s a respect, often hard earned through lifes hard knocks.
So next time you are at a loss to support someone, especially someone in grief, support them with silence. Support them with an acknowledgement of being. That they don’t need to say or justify anything they are thinking or feeling. That you love, respect and want to support them just the way they are.
Silence. It brings with it more heartfelt communication then the most beautifully constructed sentence that you can ever construct.
Image lifted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/faris-khalifeh/2068051840/?rb=1
The wilderness. A place far away. The wilderness of the soul. The wilderness of relationship. The wilderness of being. A place where all senses are both parched, starved and then finally, restored.
I’ve been pondering times when I, and those around me have been in the wilderness. When ones I’ve loved have been far away – either physically, mentally, relationally or spiritually. Times when no amount of reaching out could save them from the scorched earth they have found themselves in.
History is littered with times of people who have had wilderness experiences. Some are self-imposed, some are enforced by outside forces. I think of Joseph, head filled with dreams and promises, sold as a slave. I think of Moses, wondering around the Middle Eastern desert for many, many years. I think of David, who was promised to become king, running into the desert for his life.
All these stories have similarities. These men’s lives start full of promise – whether it be dreams, a royal upbringing or a promise of greatness. I think of a life changing event or events these men had – challenges on their life, a fissure between their promised glory and their present reality. I try to empathise with these men – how would I react if everything I held dear was ripped away from me? My home, my family, my comfort, my stability taken away and I was flung into the desert.
There’s a few ways we can react when we are having a wilderness experience. When everything seems far away, when even a little comfort seems unattainable. When we thirst for refreshment of the soul, of the mind, of the spirit or some nourishment relationally.
I guess there’s a stack of ways you can act when you’re in the wilderness. You could just let it overcome you. You could fight it out. You could go into survival mode. I guess everyone is different and deals with those experiences differently.
The more I hear of people that have had ‘wilderness experiences’, the more I see an emerging pattern. After being in the wilderness, there’s a restoration, but that restoration is always a choice. People generally don’t chose to stay in the desert forever. We all know the aforementioned stories end – Joseph does not lose sight of his visions, regardless of what life throws at him (and a stack is thrown at him). He stays true, he believes, he is lead through his many wildernesses. Moses? He led the Israelites out of Egypt. That’s no mean feat! David? From shepherd boy to giant killer to desert wanderer to King.
Here’s the crunch. What were those dreams you had in your heart, all those years ago? Where are they now? Have they been snubbed out by life? By a wilderness experience? Maybe your partner walked out on you. Perhaps you lost your job. Maybe your faith has been battered by the storms of life. Maybe the lure of riches ended up just being a rusty fishhook.
I truly believe those dreams were put in your heart for a reason. I also truly believe sometimes we need a wilderness experience to remember those dreams. To remember what it is you believed in, those many years ago. You don’t need to be in the wilderness forever. You don’t need to be separated – from life, from promise, from relationship, from destiny, from hope forever.
What has being in the wilderness taught you? When all has been stripped away, what is really important to you?
What’s stopping you from getting out of the wilderness? Pride? Past hurts? You’re right on your own? You like being in the middle of the desert? Whatever it is, you can be restored – but you need to make the decision.
Look around you – the world is full of stories of the odds being battled. Of sunshine after the rain. Of the stillness after the storm has past.
It’s time for you to write your story of coming out of the wilderness.
Image from http://www.hashtagpics.com/?p=595
OkCupid. EHarmony. AshleyMaddison. Tindr. Grindr. Adult Friend Finder. Match.com. Introduction agencies. Speed dating. Dating coaches. Dating advice websites. The Game. Swagger. That Will Smith movie.
All resources to help you in the dating market. All missing one crucial element.
Want to know how to catch the biggest fish in your pond? Want to get a second date? Want to impress? You know what you need? That’s right. You need to discover the lost art of makin’ a mixtape.
For all you young pups born after 1985, you won’t have any idea what I’m banging’ on about, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with you people. So let me help you out. Forget inappropriate snap-chats. Forget illicit KIK conversations. Forget suggestive self-made pictures on the instagram. You want to impress a gal? Here’s what you need. You need to learn how to make a mix-tape.
Now I totally get that you probably don’t have an FM wireless set with built-in cassette recorder, so you’ll just have to use up your parents interweb downloads and some sort of USB device to relay the music electronically to your romantic interest.
‘So what is a mix-tape?‘ I hear you ask. A mix-tape is where you select a range of songs for your romantic interest and painstakingly record them onto your USB device for her listening pleasure.
‘But Vidins, how do I know what music to put on the mix-tape?‘. Good question, chaps. A rookie mistake of making a mix-tape is recording songs that are outside your understanding. So often I hear of teen-age boys making mix-tapes with rap music by coloureds or unusual tunes from the orient. Whilst there may be an exotic novelty to these aberrations in music, it will only serve to confuse your potential lady-friend. Beneath the beats and interesting harmonies, the lyrics often speak of promiscuity, drug-use and unwholesome thoughts. Chaps, you want your mix-tape to tell your gal that you are a wholesome, upright guy. Don’t select music that may lead her to believe you are interesting in mixing things that shouldn’t be mixed!
It is integral that you select music that conveys your romantic intentions, but are not too suggestive. Explore the catalogue of music that can be found on the You-tubes and perhaps consult your church music library for appropriate music for youngsters. You want to relay to your gal that you admire her many character traits and find her physically striking. Nothing impresses a gal more than the ability to convey ones intentions to a catchy ‘boom-chicka’ beat! Why, when I was of dating age and courting Mrs Vidins, I impressed her on a number of occasions with a mix-tape laden with the wholesome sounds of Johnny Cash and the Carter Family band. You might scoff, but the results speak for themselves – we have been married happily for many a moon now!
Pups, you have the distinct advantage of being able to legitimately and legally source ‘music files’ at the click of a button. Why, when I was your age, I had to wait up for the Country Music Countdown or Monday Night Melodies with a fresh cassette tape ready, just waiting for the right songs to record! It is quite a skill being able to pause the cassette tape recording just before the disk-jockey throws to a commercial advertisement or the next tune!
‘Vidins, tell us more!‘ Ok calm down you eager beavers! Here’s some things to consider:
– Don’t be scared to record a personalised message at the start of your mix-tape. Record a few words expressing your thoughts towards your gal. ‘But my voice is still breaking – it sounds embarrassing’ I hear you say. Boys, it’s time to man up. If your voice still has a squeaky shrill, ask your father or uncle for some of his chewing tobacco. I promise, after a week of chewing, you will have developed a well-rounded, deep and masculine voice that will literally send ripples through your gals eardrums, into her soul.
– Start with something catchy. No one wants to listen to dreary sounds at the start of a mix-tape. Think of a catchy tune that will get her hooked. I personally think something from KC and the Sunshine Band or, if you’re thinking instrumental, some of Glenn Miller’s post-war melodies are always a hit!
– Avoid anything too topical or popular. When the song fades from the pops, so will your gals affections for you. I’ve seen it a million times before.
– Always have a strong ending. Think of something she will enjoy listening to before bed-time. Something that will give her pleasant thoughts before resting! I’ve found a selection of romantic tunes from Simon & Garfunkel’s folk collection will often suffice in this department.
– A handwritten note (sprayed with an appropriate cologne) will always give your gal both a visual and olfactory cue to enhance the listening experience.
So there you have it chaps. So much ‘modern’ dating advice is salacious and inappropriate at best. Let me implore you to employ the mix-tape in your dating arsenal. I promise you it will bring results!
photo sourced from the interwebs here: http://www.theweeklymeat.com/the_weekly_meat/2014/01/mixtape-2013-2014.html
The phone was out of range.
There was no internet reception.
We only had each other.
We couldn’t instagram the bush tukka.
We couldn’t log into Facebook at check in with friends.
We couldn’t tweet about how amazing this place was.
Many people scoff when I tell them that I don’t have a phone. Well, I do have one. I share one with my wife. She has it Monday to Friday, I have it on Saturday while she’s at work. She uses it, I pay for it!
It seems that we’ve been so accustomed to sharing the ‘best bits’ of our life on social media. I’m not saying that’s good, bad or ugly. It’s just how we’ve become narcissistic in this social media age.
I truly believe that being disconnected is one of the best states we can be. When it’s just you and perhaps those around you that you love. When there’s no distractions. When you’re not tied to an electronic device that ejaculates inane crap 24/7. Don’t get me wrong – I’m quite partial to a bit of facebooking and my instagram addiction is well documented. What I’m saying is there is just something fantastic about being ‘off the radar’.
It’s hard to be disconnected in this day and age. When we are, it’s usually by technological malfunction rather than choice.
I want to know how you get ‘off the radar’, if you do. I’d love to know what you think about when you’ve got no facebook feed to check out or thought to post on twitter. When all you see is purely nature, and not a filtered photo on a small screen. Do you get scared about being disconnected? Do you relish in no one being able to contact you? No boss to ask about that project. No report to turn in. No phone calls to return. Nothing required of you, except to enjoy the moment.
How do you ‘disconnect’?
(yeah, I’m totally aware of the irony of asking about disconnection on social media, too!!)
Photo totally ripped from http://titaniumrunner.net/2011/09/disconnected/